Clean Power

Published on March 2nd, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Kansas Ignores Koch Brothers, Keeps Renewable Energy Standard

March 2nd, 2013 by  

Reposted from the indispensable climate blog Climate Progress:

Kansas wind turbines via Shutterstock

Kansas wind turbines via Shutterstock

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that twin votes in Kansas State House and Senate on Thursday put the kibosh on legislative efforts to roll back and delay Kansas’ renewable energy standard (RES).

Passed in 2009, Kansas’ RES requires investor-owned utilities to generate 20 percent of peak demand electrical capacity from renewable sources by 2020. The American Wind Energy Association has actually highlighted the RES as a driving factor in the states burgeoning wind power sector — half of Kansas’ wind farms began operating between 2010 and 2012, after the RES went into effect.

Unfortunately, Kansas has also been targeted by conservative anti-renewable efforts. Republican Rep. Dennis Hedke, the chairman of Kansas’ House Energy and Environment Committee, recently acknowledged he had private talks with a lobbyist for Koch Companies Public Sector LLC concerning the House bill to dilute the RES. (HB 2241) Even anti-tax activist Grover Norquist got in on the action, telling the state’s legislature it ought to abandon the “costly renewable energy mandate so as to mitigate its negative impact on the economy.”

But to Kansas’ credit, it looks like neither effort bore fruit:

[T]he Senate responded by voting 17-23 to defeat Senate Bill 82 that would have postponed the deadline for complying with the Kansas renewable portfolio standard. Instead of Kansas utilities reaching 15 percent of power from wind, solar or other alternative source in 2016, the bill would have moved the date to 2018. The measure also pushed the 20 percent mandate to 2024 from 2020. […]

The House answered by voting 63-59 to send House Bill 2241 back to a committee for additional deliberation. This measure would amend the state’s portfolio standard to declare 15 percent must be met by 2018, but the 20 percent target would be dropped.

House Republicans and Democrats supportive of the motion said previous House committee work on the bill was flawed, while other representatives questioned the goal of rewriting the state’s renewable energy standard because the amendment would remove “regulatory certainty” for business.

“I would suggest we exercise prudent restraint,” said Rep. Russell Jennings, R-Lakin. “In fairness to business, and in fairness to the people of Kansas, they need some certainty.”

Kansas is one of many states in which organizations like The Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council have been lobbying against renewable energy policy, and pushing “model legislation” to undo renewable standards — part of a broader shift by conservative organizations recently to attack clean energy efforts at the state level.

Nor is renewable energy the only policy area in which conservatives and climate change skeptics have tried to convince Kansas to set back its own advancement — often with the aforementioned Rep. Hedke, a contract geophysicist with a client list that includes 30 regional oil and gas companies, at the lead. Earlier this year, Hedke introduced a bill, HB 2366, that would prohibit public funds from being used “either directly or indirectly, to promote, support, mandate, require, order, incentivize, advocate, plan for, participate in or implement sustainable development.” Another Kansas House committee recently put forward a law — likely the product of ALEC’s “model legislation” — requiring the state’s educators to teach students “evidence which both supports and counters” the science of climate change.

In all these cases, Kansas would be wise to continue pushing back right-wing efforts while moving ahead with clean energy policy. Kansas is one of the Plains states that’s been wracked by record-breaking droughts over the last few years, likely driven by global warming, as well as other forms of economically damaging extreme weather.

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  • Premature victory announcement. This bill is being discussed in the Kansas House again tomorrow, and it will likely move from there:

  • One Fly

    Kansan’s please go read this. Everybody go read this. Wind generation is the cheapest energy source. Shown by a study commissioned by the state of Kansas. It’s amazing actually.

  • Are they going to fight corn ethanol in Iowa?

  • Kansas and wind? Never happens there. Isn’t coal better for the children’s health? The coal industry didn’t spend enough money to buy votes….

  • They may just get to 20% well ahead of schedule! The whole wind corridor from Texas up to the Dakotas could easily power the entire lower 48 states several times over; let alone the whole state of Kansas.

    Mailbox money for everybody – except the Koch brothers…


  • Otis11

    So if they need 20% of peak demand supplied by renewable, why wouldn’t they simply attack the peak? Install a bunch of solar!

    Honestly in Kansas wind is probably a better overall strategy as, IIRC, Kansas is one of the states that can generate more power from wind than the entire state consumes, but from a purely numbers perspective it’s not attacking the numbers directly…. just curious why they did it that way.

    Anyway, good that they kept it. No matter where you stand, stability is a big issue. I say they draw attention away from the 20% in 2020 by pushing for 40% by 2025 and 80% by 2030. Once they get those push for 100% by 2040. While I’d prefer to see it done sooner, I think that’s actually a perfectly reasonable time table to do it with negligible cost impacts to the electricity consumers.

  • Marshall Harris

    Kansas, please kick the Koch Bros, Heartland, and ALEC out of your state. Go on you for maintaining a reasonable law over giving into pressure from them.

  • sean

    introduce a bill to support additional energy generation, enable Kansas to become an energy exporter, secure their energy future with 40% minimum renewables

  • sean

    too bad there wasn’t a counter bill to increase to 40%, go on the offensive so to speak

  • agelbert

    Kansas definitely neeeds to send the Koch snakes and their bought and paid for astroturf lobbyists packing.

    And Grover Norquist should be serving life for treason. If conspiracy to beggar the American people on behalf of corporations isn’t treason, I don’t know what is.

  • speller


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